DUBAI – A group of American citizens and lawful permanent residents evacuated to the United Arab Emirates from Afghanistan flew out of the Gulf state bound for the United States on Thursday, the country’s foreign ministry said, after being temporarily held up for vetting.
The Department of Homeland Security had denied U.S. landing rights for a charter plane carrying more than 100 evacuees, said organisers of that earlier flight — one of several that emerged from ad hoc networks that formed to bolster last month’s chaotic evacuation operation from Afghanistan.
But the State Department said on Wednesday that more than 100 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents evacuated to Abu Dhabi from Afghanistan aboard the charter flight were expected to fly on to the United States on Thursday.
The State Department had said that U.S. officials were working to verify the accuracy of the list of passengers that had been evacuated to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
“The processing of those passengers has been completed and they have already departed for the United States on a commercial aircraft (Etihad) this morning,” the UAE foreign ministry said in an emailed response to Reuters.
It did not say whether all the passengers had flown out.
Bryan Stern, a founder of nonprofit group Project Dynamo that chartered the flight, had said 28 U.S. citizens, 83 green card holders and six people with U.S. Special Immigration Visas granted to Afghans who worked for the U.S. government during the 20-year war in Afghanistan were aboard the Kam Air flight from Kabul to Abu Dhabi.
President Joe Biden’s administration has said its top priority is repatriating Americans and green card holders who were unable to leave Afghanistan in the U.S. evacuation operation last month.